How to Weatherproof Your Basement for Continuing Rain This Spring

by Ben SanfordApril 18, 2018

Keeping the Wet Elements Out and Your Basement Dry

If you’ve ever been in a basement that wasn’t properly sealed against moisture, then you are definitely familiar with the smell of mold and moisture. Even if the problem isn’t so bad that cracks have formed in the foundation walls or mushrooms are growing out of the carpet, there will still be the smell. Let’s face it; a musty basement isn’t good for too much of anything.

Mold and fungal spores aren’t healthy for breathing, either. You wouldn’t want to store anything of personal or monetary value in such a space. But, before you can do anything about weatherproofing your basement, you have to figure out what’s causing the problem. There are three main causes of a wet or musty basement, groundwater swelling, runoff, and condensation. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to deal with all three.

weatherproof your basement

Condensation

Basement condensation problems are often caused by the same phenomena that can fog up your car windows on a cold day. Warm, moist air in the home hits the cold (typically concrete or stone) walls of the basement and turns into water—water that can run down the walls and pool on the floor or wet the carpet.

Dealing with condensation in a basement can be as simple as installing a basement exhaust fan, eliminating excess moisture by fixing a leaking dryer vent hose, or by running a dehumidifier in cold months.

Runoff

Runoff issues can be much more of a challenge to deal with than basement condensation. Water that’s saturating the soil surrounding your foundation and seeping through your basement walls can be a minor occasional nuisance or a major persistent problem.

Solutions usually involve anything from fixing foundation cracks and applying a sealant or moisture barrier, all the way to full construction projects involving dry wells and trenching to divert runoff away from the foundation and into the water table or downhill from the home. Depending on the severity of the problem, consulting with a professional may be in order.

weatherproof your basement

Groundwater Swelling

A much more serious problem can be the cause of a wet basement: groundwater swelling. Changes in your local water table can lead to situations where groundwater is pooling in the soils around your foundation, or worse, causing your sewer pipes to flood your basement.

Dealing with a groundwater swelling issue is far more complicated than dealing with water condensation of runoff issues and should involve at least consulting with a professional. There are ways to guard against the problem, and depending on the cause, you may even be in a position to get compensation from the water and sewer company or from your local municipality.

weatherproof your basement

Replacing Faulty Equipment

In many areas of the country, sump pumps are installed in basements to prevent flooding. If you’ve noticed that there’s excess water in your basement and you have a sump pump, it might be broken. Sump pumps remove excess water that settles above the water table and backs up into a basement at a collecting basin. A pump that has reached its lifespan and hasn’t been replaced can cause flooding.

Specialists suggest having sump pumps maintained annually for these reasons:

  • To have a functioning system, debris should be cleared out of the pump.
  • If your pump isn’t electric, regular maintenance ensures that the battery-operated pumps are functioning properly.
  • A sump pump should be checked to ensure values of the pump aren’t jammed and causing the system to overheat.

Building a System That Keeps the Elements at Bay

Regardless of the specific issue or issues contributing to your musty or downright flooded basement, it is vitally important for the health of your family and your home that it be addressed appropriately and quickly. Considering the potential health issues that a wet or flooded basement can cause, not to mention the effect that water can have on your home’s foundation, it does not pay to let water issues in your basement go untreated.

The problem may involve less work and money than you think. Regardless, dealing with it sooner rather than later will almost always save you money in the long run. And, think of all the space you stand to gain by having a basement you can spend time in and store your things in!

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About The Author
Ben Sanford
Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.